Memories Of The Pot Calling The Kettle Black
by Gerald A. Honigman
There’s an expression, the pot calling the kettle black. It refers to someone claiming a sin in others which is at least as prevalent–if not more so–in the accuser than it is in the accused. Hypocrisy is the name of the game.
Turn the clock back three decades.
Some things change, others never will…such as the acceptance of anyone else’s political rights in a multi-ethnic region which most Arabs see exclusively as “purely Arab patrimony.” That’s the Arab-Israel conflict in a nutshell…but also the Arab-Berber, Arab-Kurd, Arab-black African, Arab-Copt, Arab-Assyrian, Arab-native Semitic but non-Arab Lebanese, etc. and so forth conflicts as well. The Arabs’ Anfal campaign against the Kurds and their actions in Darfur and the rest of the southern Sudan are just a few of many examples of Arab genocidal actions against all who might disagree.
To be accepted and not literally exterminated, one must do what Egypt’s most successful Copt did…consent to this age-old forced subjugation and Arabization. Dr. Butros Butros Ghali became a top official in President Anwar Sadat’s government and went on to become Secretary General of the United Nations as well.
Uncle Butros instead of Uncle Tom.
He also instructed Israel that for it to be accepted, it–as an entire country–must consent to being Arabized…like those Kurdish kids in Syrian Kurdistan who are forced today to sing songs praising their “Arab” identities and so forth.
Back in the ‘70s I was a consultant for a major organization while trying to finish my own doctoral work. One of my main jobs involved being brought in by dozens of major colleges and universities across a three-state region in the Midwest to balance anti-Israel spokesmen on campus. The tale I’m about to tell involved my visit to Ohio University in Athens…near my small mouth bass fishing grounds in the Hocking River.
OU was famous for its English language program for foreign students…so there were numerous folks there from all over the Arab and African worlds.
Those were the days of the United Nations’ infamous Zionism Equals Racism resolution. Arab and pro-Arab professors were already hijacking the campus scene, constantly putting Israel under the high power lens of moral scrutiny in ways that they would never dream of subjecting the Jewish State’s surrounding Arab neighbors to.
It was arranged for me to come to deliver a lecture to balance one given previously by the other side.
The Arabs and their supporters–often left wing Jews themselves–were loaded for game when they heard of my invitation.
But so was I…
I was a card-carrying member of the London-based Anti-Slavery Society, and persistent reports were coming through of slavery (and worse) still being practiced in Arab lands–those same folks screaming about alleged Zionist racists.
I prepared a small booklet called “Look Who’s Calling The Kettle Black” which consisted of about a dozen short articles dealing with the hypocrisy of the Arab position and had numerous copies made for distribution.
I had some of my host students in the audience ready for action. They were in the company of hundreds who packed the lecture hall–including college officials, professors, and so forth. Unlike some of the Hillels elsewhere, the director at OU was on the ball when it came to these issues. My cadre consisted largely of Hillel members.
After my presentation, I had my usual question and answer session.
That’s when the proverbial manure hit the fan…
I was anticipating a Zionism equals racism lecture/question from the audience and, sure enough, I was blessed with one.
I calmly stated, “since you are so concerned about such issues, I believe you’ll be interested in the packet of information you are about to receive.”
I then had my cadre pass out the Look Who’s Calling The Kettle Black booklets.
After the commotion and dust settled and it was time to leave for my hotel, several carloads of Arab students followed me. Some members of my group decided it was best to keep me company that night. Think of the Danish Cartoons and the Pope’s comment incidents today. The Arab idea of free speech is the same now as it was back then and as it has always been.
The next day, before returning to my office in Columbus, I decided to visit the nearby famous boot factory in Nelsonville.
Now, what I’m going to relate next may sound a bit melodramatic…but it was for real. It’s who I am.
I was on one of the top floors of the factory outlet looking at brand name dress boots. There was hardly anyone else there…so I was sort of isolated.
All of a sudden, I spotted a half dozen tall, black men down the isle from me.
One of them then called out, “Mr. Hooonigmannn!!!”
After my experience the night before, I figured that my time on Earth was up. There were definitely folks at OU who wanted to kill me that night.
I nervously stood my ground as they ran up to me.
And if you offered me a million dollars at the time, I would not have traded it for this experience.
As they grabbed my hands, they said, “Thank you so much for last night. We had never heard or seen what you shared with us before.”
Should I be ashamed to tell you of the tears in my eyes at that moment?
These were not just any folks…these were students sent by their countries who would later go on to become some of those nations’ future professionals, leaders, and so forth.
And like I did on dozens of other campuses, scores of other platforms, and in dozens of op-eds I prepared for leading newspapers all over the region, I tried my best to help change some minds one at a time.
The struggle is as hard if not harder today, but those of us who care have no other choice but to continue in this ever-growing uphill battle for a bit of justice for the Jew of the Nations.